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Gaming Roundup – Making Nemeses

Hello! Welcome to the latest Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!

This week, critics, plagiarism, leaks and games coming to an end, plus all the latest releases!

Sorry for the late one this week, by the way. Was hit by illness this week, so writing this has naturally been a bit slower than usual. But it’s here now because I won’t let you down! Anyway, let’s get started!

ANCESTORS DEV ACCUSES CRITICS OF NOT PLAYING HIS GAME

Ancestors: A Humankind Odyssey launched at the end of August to a lukewarm reception. Its Metacritic score is in the low 60s, with user scores trending lower. In sales terms, it was fairly ignored but then launching in the same week as a million other games probably didn’t help it too much.

Well, it turns out Patrice Desilets, head of developer Panache Digital, isn’t too happy with that reaction. Which is fair, although what’s less fair is his accusation that reviewers never played the game.

At a recent talk he gave at Reboot Develop Red, Desilets made the claim that many reviewers didn’t play the game, and that they were expecting a game on the scale of Assassin’s Creed (which he’d previously worked on) and he felt this was unfair with his smaller team. However, he undermined this statement a little when he claimed that he expected review scores to be identical to Assassin’s Creed, so clearly everyone was too busy comparing his new game to his past work.

He didn’t specify any reviewers who he believed didn’t play the game, although he didn’t mention a review that mentioned dissatisfaction with non-existent horses in the game. However, when covering this story, internet personality Jim Sterling researched every review for mention of horses and couldn’t find the review Desilets was talking about, which increases the confusion.

What this sounds like is a developer unwilling to critically examine their own work through the criticism of others. His assertion that he made bigger numbers on Assassin’s Creed is bizarre against his claims that reviewers were unfairly comparing the game. He also admits that the studio had to make sacrifices and cutbacks, although when some of the things they had to cut were important tutorial messages, it’s easy to see where reviewers may have seen major flaws.

In any case, it’s not a good look for any developer to respond to critical reviews with serious accusations of unprofessionalism. I can’t personally vouch for the quality of Ancestors because, full disclosure, I didn’t play it. But I trust reviewers who did play it and get suspicious of developers who dismiss those opinions as wrong. Poor showing, Desilets.

SONY CONTRACTOR UNDER FIRE FOR PLAGIARISM

But Desilets isn’t the only naughty boy this week. A contractor hired by Sony Japan has received numerous accusations of plagiarism, and the evidence is damning.

Earlier this week, PlayStation Japan released their second PlayStation 4 Music Video Lineup, where footage from upcoming games is contrasted against gorgeous animation. Their previous instalment featured animations of a girl on a scooter interacting with the various games on offer, and was generally a fun promo.

The second instalment, however, featured some brilliant animation, but that animation was lifted from as many external sources as the contractor felt he could get away with. Animations have found to be identical to clips from the anime FLCL, popular Western carton Steven Universe, and the work of French animation school, Gobelins. The last example is especially galling, as that’s the work of students just starting out on their animation careers, so to swipe their work is crass.

The director, Kevin Bao, a Canadian animator, has received awards from major film festivals and produced for high-level clients, but this latest work has caused some serious problems to this reputation. Almost every animation from the Sony promo was lifted from elsewhere, but internet sleuths discovered further plagiarism in his previous works, leading to his Instagram and agency portfolio going dark. He has also been fired from Eallin Animation, a company he’d worked with a lot in the past.

Sony have pulled the video, although a mirror exists as evidence. Quite why Bao thought he would get away with art theft on this scale isn’t known, but I imagine he’ll struggle to find more high-level clients in future following this. The lesson here is, don’t squander your opportunities by cheating them.

RESIDENT EVIL 3 ARTWORK LEAKS

There’s been no formal announcement yet, but we already know what the Resident Evil 3 remake is going to look like. Thanks to a leak on Gamestat, where future PSN releases can often be found, the promotional artwork for RE3 has shown up, and it’s looking pretty badass.

Jill and Carlos have gotten makeovers like Leon and Claire in RE2. Carlos’ hair has gotten much curlier and more unruly than before. Jill, meanwhile, took some adjusting to until I saw her new design side by side with her original render, when it all made sense.

Meanwhile, Nemesis has been enhanced, with some crazy teeth and a smooshed nose, which has naturally led to jokes online. Jokes aside, it is a cool design and as long as he still mumbles “STARS” at every opportunity, all is right with the world.

CIV 6 BROKEN, HAS BIZARRE WORKAROUND

War! Huh! What is it good for? Well, apparently, it’s good for a temporary fix in Civilization VI on the Switch.

Basically, Civ 6 on Switch is broken. Really broken. As in, you can’t win a game broken. Every time you reach a victory condition, any victory condition, the game will just crash. 100% of the time. Users have been taking to Reddit to share stories of it happening to them, and publisher 2K has been doing its best to respond to the many support tickets it’s getting about the issue.

Thing is, 2K don’t know why this is happening. They are looking into it but can’t provide a definitive answer yet. A patch will be on its way once they’ve figured it out, but it’s going to take some work. However, they have offered a workaround in the meantime, and it’s just as baffling as the glitch itself.

The answer is war. Before you hit “Next Turn” to head into your inevitable victory, declare war on someone. Specifically, reload your last save and get aggressive with whoever caused the crash before the game looped back to your turn. Essentially the glitch is an AI opponent flipping the table and storming out, and for some reason, antagonising them stops this. Game development is weird.

GWENT IS DEAD ON CONSOLES

CD Projekt Red will be shutting down support for Gwent on consoles. The card game, spun off from a minigame in The Witcher 3, will continue to receive support on PC and mobile, but PS4 and Xbox owners will be losing out.

The reasoning is simple – most of the players are on PC and mobile rather than consoles, and this is a way to streamline resources and not get stretched thin. And it makes sense. Most other card battler games on the market are solely on PC and mobile, since the genre seems to suit those platforms better. The lack of console interest for Gwent seems to prove that.

Not that there aren’t console players, and they aren’t particularly happy with the choice to cut support. CDPR are offering to transfer progress through GOG to the PC or mobile versions, but if you’re not interested in playing those versions, you’re out of luck. Hopefully a refund policy will be implemented as a gesture of goodwill for those unwilling to transfer, but for now a straight transfer to the supported versions makes the most sense.

IN THE VALLEY OF GODS IS MIA

Speaking of projects halting, Firewatch developers Campo Santo have revealed that their upcoming title In the Valley of Gods has been halted.

In the Valley of Gods was set to follow in the footsteps of Firewatch, as another narrative driven first-person adventure. It was set to be an archaeological adventure set in Egypt, discovering the mysteries of the pyramids.

And then Campo Santo got bought by Valve and things got very quiet. More recently, the game seemed to vanish from a few sources, sparking speculation it had been cancelled. This week, Campo Santo confirmed that the game has been shelved as the staff have gone off to work on various projects at Valve, from Steam to the upcoming Half-Life: Alyx. Which raises serious questions about Valve buying out Campo Santo at all if all they were going to do was push them away from their current project and onto projects that could have been served well enough by other devs.

It’s now looking unlikely that we’ll ever see In the Valley of Gods, which is a real shame because it looked interesting, and more games of Firewatch’s quality are always welcome.

NEW RELEASES

A couple of smaller releases this week to start. Interrogation: You Will Be Deceived (PC) is a moody text-driven adventure centred on interviewing suspects in a crime, while Tools Up! (PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch) is Overcooked but for home renovation.

Mosaic released with Apple Arcade earlier this year, but this week got its PC release. It’s a surreal existential crisis of a game, exploring loneliness in a modern society. It’s got a bit of a Black Mirror vibe to it, with some more weird, surreal elements, so should be an interesting experience.

Darksiders Genesis launched for PC this week and is also on Stadia for the three people who care. It’s a Diablo-style spin-off from the Darksiders universe, starring a new horseman called Strife, working alongside series veteran War. It’s a big, explosive brawler of a game, as you’d expect from the series.

Launching on the Epic Store is the long-awaited Phoenix Point. It’s designed by original XCOM designer, Julian Gollop, and is set to be more like the original XCOM games rather than the rebooted games from this decade. It’s got some mixed reviews, so might be worth doing some research on before dipping in.

GAME OF THE WEEK

Game of the Week this week is Arise: A Simple Story (PC, PS4, XBO). Picture the PS3 classic Journey, then move it to a Scandinavian wilderness and replace the bescarfed traveller with a Viking, and you’re mostly there. It’s set in the afterlife as your Viking travels through a dreamlike representation of his life, and features puzzles and platforming sequences that aid the storytelling. It looks like a beautiful and no doubt sad adventure that should be worth your time.

And that’s it for this week! Next week will be the final standard roundup of 2019, so we’ll see what gaming news awaits us to see out the year!

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